Update: WVDEP Finalizes Water Quality Standards Recommendations

In late June, the WVDEP’s Environmental Protection Advisory Council (EPAC) met to discuss the WVDEP’s proposed recommendations for the state’s water quality standards. Following the EPAC meeting, it’s clear that the WVDEP had chosen to align their proposed water quality standards rule with the requests of the WV Manufacturers Association. Check out past WV Rivers’ blogs to learn how we got to this point: November 2018March 2019October 2019December 2019April 2020.

Water quality standards are highly technical and it’s easy to get bogged down, but to summarize this issue in the simplest terms: EPA recommends WVDEP update limits on 94 toxins within our water quality standards, known as human health criteria – some strengthen limits, some weaken limits. It’s WV Rivers’ position that no toxin limit should be weakened. It’s backward thinking to allow even more toxins to be discharged into our water. In WVDEP’s newly revised water quality standards rule, which the legislature will consider in 2021, WVDEP is only choosing to update limits for 24 toxins – 13 of which would be weakened.

Additionally, even after three years of study and public comment, WVDEP now recommends the development of a “workgroup” to study the remaining toxins and develop standards. This further delay of adopting recommended human health protections leaves our citizens at unnecessary risk.

WV Rivers strongly disagrees with WVDEP’s decision and we’re disappointed to see the agency so easily strong-armed by industry lobbyists. As disappointing as this proposal is, it’s important to remember that it is the West Virginia Legislature that will determine the final water quality standards rule. The Senators and Delegates we vote for in November will have the final say on water quality standards. Please, research the candidates and make informed decisions when you cast your vote on November 3.

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